For those of you who felt there was unfinished business with the casual one-on-one brawler sub-genre in the wake of the Infinity Blade series, Shurado should be of interest.
This game takes Infinity Blade, swaps out the swipey controls for even simpler tap-based alternatives, and adds a dose of Dark Souls‘s grim Eastern-fantasy trappings and weighty physics.
It’s an immediately captivating formula – particularly from a technical standpoint – but I’m not sure whether it has the stamina to go the distance.
You and whose armour?
Shurado casts you as an undead samurai, cursed to eke out a supernatural existence as a hulking suit of armour. It’s probably best not to ask why.
Our clanking protagonist sets off on an automated trot up a series of ramps, facing up to a new blade-wielding rival at each turn. In between conflicts you can rotate the camera and tap floating wisps for extra health and money.
These interstitial bits merely set the stage for the true meat of the game, though, which is the brutal fights themselves.
Circle of death
As each of these scrap begins, the two contestants automatically circle one another with weapons drawn.
It’s down to you to initiate attacks and parry those of your opponent. Tapping the right side of the screen executes your basic slash, while a hold and release initiates a more powerful attack.
Holding the left side of the screen brings up your defences, and doing so at the last minute will have the added bonus of stunning your opponent, opening them up for an easy counter. Tapping both sides of the screen initiates your weapon’s high-powered special attack.
Shurado‘s is a very simple combat system that’s clearly been built with accessibility in mind. That’s driven home by a screen-tapping mechanic whenever you lock swords with your opponent by attacking simultaneously.
Still, there’s a satisfying heft to these fights. It takes a while for any attack or defence animation to execute, and each slash hits hard, so you must watch carefully for your opponent’s cues and choose the appropriate response.
There’s also a stamina bar in play, which prevents you from stringing together too many offensive moves. For all its simplicity, this is no button masher.
It’s also quite unforgiving, with a Dark Souls-inspired death system that leaves all your accrued wealth on the level you were defeated at. If you want to regain it, you need to fight your way back to it.
When you gonna give me some time Shurado?
Where Shurado falls down compared to Infinity Blade is the lack of variety in its opponents and settings. Though Chair’s series can get pretty grindy, there’s still the sense that you’re exploring a vast castle filled with a wide range of ghastly opponents. Here you’re just climbing a vast staircase tackling minor variations of the same armoured demon.
There is an extensive weapons collection and customisation system at play, which feeds into a freemium loot box set-up, and there’s also an elemental triangle to consider when selecting your weapons. But none of this fundamentally adjusts your approach to each encounter.
Shurado is an undeniable technical showcase, however. Its character models move and clash with convincing weight, and the surrounding architecture is highly detailed.
It’s all part of a package that will hold considerable immediate appeal for fighting fans and those looking to show off their new iPhone 8 or iPhone X. Whether they’ll stick around beyond the first dozen or so rounds is another matter.